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Fast Times

With the holidays behind us and school starting again, it’s time for another season of Northern Arizona University’s College of Arts and Letters Film Series. Each semester the CAL Film Series screens a number of influential films centered on a common theme. Next week heralds the beginning of the second of a two-season focus on youth in movies, with the spring 2019 films highlighting troubled youth. As is usual with the CAL Film Series, the films run quite the gamut, with a variety of periods and genres being represented. The earliest cinematic piece starts the series off on Jan. 15 with 1933’s Zero for Conduct, featuring four rebellious kids leading a mutiny against the school staff. The following week, the series continues with James Dean’s 1955 classic, Rebel Without a Cause.

While most of the film series’ installments are more serious in nature, there are a few showing the lighter side of cinema. Mean Girls has managed to become a cult hit. With a screenplay by Tina Fey and a recognizable cast, this film is worth watching and screens on April 16. For us ‘80s kids, Fast Times at Ridgemont High will bring back some memories. Showing on March 5, Fast Times has a lot in common with other teen fare from the era. Though in this case, the film has an added depth that makes it more akin to something like American Graffiti as opposed to a simple meaningless comedic romp.

There are also two music-centric films making it into the CAL Film Series this season. The first is 1970’s Rolling Stones documentary Gimme Shelter, which chronicles the band’s 1969 American tour and the tragic events of the year’s final show in San Francisco. The second is a dramatization of the formation of The Beatles, Backbeat (1994), telling the tale of the band’s early years in Hamburg, Germany, before the arrival of their fame and fortune. Other notable films include Lord of the Flies (1963) on Feb. 5, Two Lane Blacktop (1971) on Feb. 26 and My Own Private Idaho (1991) on March 26.

The series concludes with Beasts of the Southern Wilds on April 30. The 2012 release was well received by critics and garnered four Oscar nominations including best picture, leading actress, director and adapted screenplay. Films are shown every Tuesday, Jan. 15 through April 30. Each film is introduced by a local film expert, setting the context and noting its artistic contribution to the medium, and a discussion follows each presentation. The CAL Film Series is free to attend, and donations are accepted. Visit www.nau.edu/cal/events-overview-and-ticketing/film-series/ for the complete list of films and other information.

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